The Making of The Taste of Manila
In 2011, after some years of consultations with Toronto’s Filipino community leaders, Mr. Rolly Mangante, a known staff member of the Philippine Consulate Office in Toronto, finally found an interested core group in 2013 where he brought up his idea and eventually presented the proposal of Toronto’s first ever street festival that would showcase Filipino culture & cuisine and to be called the ‘Taste of Manila.’ And after coming off with the concrete plans and documentations of the unique event, Mangante and his group met with the city officials who gave them the green light on January 14, 2014 to proceed with the first Filipino Street Festival in Toronto.
Thus, on July 23, 2014, Mangante with their newly assembled Philippine Cultural Community Centre (PCCC) and its Board of Directors, formally announced the launch of the first Taste of Manila Street Festival at Cusina Lounge, a former Filipino restaurant is now known as Republika, located at Bathurst and Wilson Ave. where noted community leaders, business sector, ethnic media and some City officials attended the event.
August 23rd-24th, 2014. The Inaugural Kick-off
The 1st “Taste of Manila” Street Festival kicks off in Toronto August 23rd-24th, 2014 where the busy Bathurst Street up to Allington Street North of Wilson Ave. was closed for the more than 100 exhibitors and food vendors which set up their trades and wares for two days of fun and excitement among the Filipinos and others races that braved the hot summer sun just to witness and experience the initial staging of the First Taste of Manila Street Festival this part of the Greater Toronto Area.
And with the major sponsorship of The Filipino Channel (TFC), the biggest global subscription television network of ABS-CBN in North America, together with several Canadian and Filipino businesses in the GTA, the debut of ToM attracted not less than less than 25,000 people in its 2-day run, which the organizing PCCC described as unbelievably incredible considering the fact that not only Filipinos in the GTA attended the event but of other people of different colors and races in the nearby towns and cities as far as Ottawa and London, Ontario.
The busy crowd was also treated with a parade of the best Filipino cultural presentation, stage performances with live music, tribal dance and games such as Palo ng palayok, a game where blindfolded children try to break the pot (palayok) with one hit or palo etc. The festival also included a special appearance from Mark AKA Guapo Pagkaliwangan: the first Filipino Canadian boxer from the GTA and Gerard Anderson a Filipino- American actor, managed and under contract with Star Magic, ABS-CBN’s home-based talent agency.
August 22-23, 2015. The succeeding ToM: Mammoth successes
With the unprecedented success of its inaugural presentation, the 2nd Taste of Manila held August 22-23, 2015 at the same venue – Bathurst St. corner Wilson Avenue – and which again was organized by the Philippine Cultural Community Centre (PCCC) drew triple of those in last year’s inaugurals or not less than 150 booths of food vendors and different merchandisers that proudly displayed their unique Filipino culture, cuisine and products to the not less than a record 100,000 people of different nationalities coming from as far Alberta, Vancouver and other US cities that crossed the borders to taste what Filipinos offered in these 2-day street festival.
And aside from the Philippine officials from the Embassy and Consulate Office headed by Ambassador Pertronila Garcia, Canadian public figures such as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Federal Filipino Senator Tobias Enverga,Jr., Finance Minister Joe Oliver, MP Mark Adler, MPP John Carmichael, MPP Laurie Scott and Councilor James Pasternak also graced the event with their presence. Popular Filipino actor/singer Jericho Rosales, courtesy of The Filipino Channel (TFC), also made an appearance at the festival. Jericho performed some of his popular songs and greeted fans who were extremely excited to see him. Furthermore, Toronto’s Mayor John Tory addressed the crowd with the heartwarming news that the process is under way at City Hall to rename the mini park at the intersection of Bathurst and Wilson to “Manila City Park”.
With another highly triumphant staging of the ‘Taste of Manila,” the PCCC organizers stated that they have learned a lot from this year’s overwhelming turnout and success, knowledge that they’ll plan to use to continue improving the event in the succeeding year.
August 20-21, 2016. 3rd Annual Taste of Manila Street Festival
The 3rd staging of the now famous Taste of Manila street festival was solely organized by the Philippine Cultural Community Centre with approval from the Taste of Manila management headed by president and CEO Rolly Mangante. The festival was a true exhibition of Filipino culture which included traditional dance, music and food while showcasing an atmosphere of love, peace and harmony.
This year, Filipino tsinito actor and crowd favorite Xian Lim along with singer Tootsie Guevarra who popularized the song “Kaba” took to the stage and delighted the crowds with their beautiful performance. This family-friendly event drew a record-breaking number of 300,000 people with Bus loads who travelled from as far as New York, Philadelphia and Edmonton Alberta. The festival also included a beer tent which served San Miguel (Philippine’s popular lager). It also included food stands that served barbequed meat, kwek kwek, adobo, freshly cocked lechon and roasted corn. There were also many merchants selling Filipiniana items and souvenirs which provided a more authentic flavor to the festival. As attendees walked along the path, they consumed tasty treats, observed the cultural experience and enjoyed the stage performances.
It was also a joy and a huge delight to see Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attending the celebration this year. The Prime Minister was quite enthusiastic to engage in the celebration of Filipino culture and he actually tried cooking traditional Filipino barbecue while wearing an apron on top of his Barong Tagalog (common formal or semi-formal attire in Filipino culture). Trudeau received an overwhelming response from the community and was encouraged with cheers from the crowd as he took to the event’s main stage and spoke about the values of multiculturalism. He then made his way through the crowd, shaking hands and taking selfies as everyone tried to get closer to him.
Other dignitaries such as MP Marco Mendicino of Eglinton-Lawrence, The Premier of Ontario: Kathleen Wynne, and Toronto Mayor John Tory have also graced the event. Additionally, Senator Tobias Enverga who is the first Filipino Canadian to sit in the Senate attended the event adding further prestige to the third year of the festival.
Among those who made this year’s Taste of Manila festival possible were The Filipino Channel (TFC), ONEAYALA (Ayala, AyalaLand, BPI & Globe), Pacific Ark, brought to you by San Miguel, MLHUILLIER/Reliable Peso Remit Inc. , TD Bank, MoneyGram, WFG of Agnes Miranda, Fido, Trureal and more.
August 19-20, 2017. 4th Annual Taste of Manila Festival
The now famous 2-day street festival, Taste of Manila (ToM) returns for its fourth year bringing with it an even larger variety of Pilipino delicacies, entertainment, games, music and much more.
Thousands of Filipino Canadians and foreign nationals (more than 350,000 people as estimated by Toronto Police) marched to the fun-filled intersection of Bathurst and Wilson. And as the Filipino population continuous to grow, so have the shops & businesses within the community and likewise their contribution towards the festival. The annual festival has always been well attended by both Pilipino and Canadian government dignitaries who come to show their support for the Filipino community.
This year’s Taste of Manila was also held in consonance with the celebration of the 150th founding anniversary of Canada which showed love and compassion to the Filipino immigrants and OFWs now numbering to some 850,000 according to the 2016 census. Toronto Mayor John Tory became a fixture of the event, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn also gave her message with Canada Immigration and Citizenship Minister Almed Hussen also congratulating the Filipino Canadian community for the street festival that draws a huge turnout every year.
Again, the Philippine Cultural Community Centre and Philippine Consulate General in cooperation with the Mighty wind Consultancy Services Inc. (the official Manila partner for the annual event) locked arms to make the annual event another success. Other major sponsors
who helped make the festival possible are TELUS, Truereal Inc., Ford Canada and TD Canada Trust.
Supporting this event from the government of the Philippines are PAGCOR president and chief operating officer Attorney Alfredo C. Lim, Chairman Andrea Domingo and Board Member Rene Concordia. Among those who attended the two-day cultural festival were Retired General Alexander Ferrer Balutan, General Manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) along with General Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III who was represented by his labor officers at the Canadian Polo Office in Toronto, Congressman Anthony Bravo, Congressman John Bertiz and Miss Manila 2017 winners. Canadian officials: MP Michael Levitt, MP Salma Zahid, MP Marco Mendicino and other members were also present and introduced to the stage by the Philippine Ambassador Petronila Garcia and Consul General Rosalia Prospero.
ToM also came up with a surprise delegation from the Kingdom of Cambodia headed by the Honorary Consul, Chat Chour who proudly shared Colombian culture, arts, food, and entertainment attracting more people to the festival.
August 18 – 19, 2018. 5th Annual Taste of Manila Festival
The 5th year of this summer festival also set in the Bathurst and Wilson Avenue area faced a tumultuous issue and was almost cancelled after organizers realized that the increasing costs for policing, waste management and other requirements have exceeded their ability to raise funds. But, on July 30, 2018, Toronto Mayor John Tory called for a meeting with the Taste of Manila organizers and city councilor James Pasternak who represents the York Centre area: the home of the festival, for the City of Toronto’s help to get the festival back on track, that would ensure the continuation of the festival for the fifth time in a row. And for just three weeks of ToM’s uncertainty, the Pinoy street festival was back from the graveyard after the City of Toronto thru Mayor John Tory funded the hosting of the popular Filipino Summer Festival.
Balloons were released in Toronto's Little Manila on Aug. 18, 2018 by federal, provincial and city officials along with Philippine diplomatic officials to mark the staging of the Taste of Manila festival 2018. The political dignitaries were led by Toronto Mayor John Tory, MP Marco Mendicino, MP Michael Levitt and the Philippine Consul General Rosalia Prospero. And even with the earlier news of its cancellation, Taste of Manilla managed to draw a big crowd of nearly 300 000 people; a lower turnout compared to the previous year due to the announcement of its cancelation. Local Pilipino artists, singers, dancers and musicians also performed, entertaining the crowd and uplifting spirits once more.
Those who attended enjoyed the entertainment along with typical traditional dishes, display of culture and the beauty of Filipino heritage. Not only was this a celebration, it was a way to help open doors for today’s youth as part of the proceeds from sponsors and vendors was put towards charity foundations and as always it was a great way to share Filipino culture with people from all backgrounds.
August 17-18, 2019. 6th Annual Taste of Manila Festival
Now described as the largest Filipino festival outside of the Philippines, the Taste of Manila has grown bigger and larger with each passing year drawing an amazing crowd of people who gather in the now known as Little Manila to eat some of the tastiest Filipino dishes in Toronto. The 6th ToM event, the two-day festival was filled once again with Filipino delicacies such as sisig, balut, barbecue, pancit, halo-halo and many more. Stage performances, pinoy street games and art exhibits were some of the other events which made the festival a fun and special atmosphere for all.
And as usual, there were grand musical performances and celebrity appearances as ABS-CBN delivered top-rated performers to the festival. The different genres of music were infused into the colorful celebration of Filipino culture here in Toronto. Among the celebrities and rising-stars who participated in the 2019 ToM were: pop singer-songwriter-actor Inigo Pascual, singer-songwriter August Rigo, iconic filipino music and TV star Randy Santiago with the “MOR Pinoy Pop Icon Finalist”, Sheryn Regis “Crystal Voice of Asia”, international pop singer-TV host Billy Crawford, rapper Ruby Ibarra, Jugs & Teddy from the megahit TFC noontime show: “It’s Showtime”, the renowned Jordan “DJ Tilt” Rulloda, Joel Villanueva Mondina aka Pambansang Kolokoy also owns an on-line radio station and a Toronto-based pop & R&B group by Dizz, Khadija, Zak and Monroe called “Riverse”.
Canadian Officials who have supported the event since its birth include: MPP Roman Baber, MP Michael Levitt, Councillor James Pasternak, MP Salma Zahid, MP Marco Mendicino, Minister Ahmed Hussen and other members. Representatives of the Philippine consulate were also present to show their support for the festival. Mayor John Tory & Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were absent in this year’s event but gave their heartfelt messages to the Filipino - Canadian community and to everyone attending the 2019 taste of manila.
TOM 2019 was sponsored in full partnership with ABS-CBN/TFC Canada and organized by the Philippine Legacy and Cultural Alliance (PLACA) and drew crowds of approximately 400,000 people, marking the 2019 edition the highest attendance recorded since the birth of the festival back in 2014.
TOM 7th Edition set August 29, 2020
This year, the 7th TOM 2020 is set August 16-17 but was cancelled by the City of Toronto due to the devastation caused by the pandemic COVID 19 virus that bring the whole world into a temporary stop. But, the President and CEO of the Taste of Manila, Rolly Mangante, deemed it right to continue giving the Filipinos and supporters of the street festival something to hope for, smile in time of crisis, and unity in time of uncertainty, thus, tapping the services of event non-profit organizer PCESO headed by Philip Beloso and Pete Torralba and ToM’s Special Event Team chaired by Chief of Staff Cecille Araneta, to produce a Virtual Presentation of the Taste of Manila which is now on its final editing to be viewed at the TOM’s website, Facebook, IG and other social media outlets, that would somewhat ease some pain everyone in planet is suffering and continuously facing right now.
The ToM 2020 Virtual Presentation is supported by political dignitaries headed by the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Councillor James Pasternak, MPP Roman Baber, MP Salma Zahid, MP Marco Mendicino, MP Michael Levitt. Filipino & Canadian businesses and community leaders headed by WFG Sr. VP and co-chairman of the Board Agnes Miranda, Judy Poky of Remitly, Inc., Danny Hernandez of Harina Bakeshoppe, Candida Gonsadan of CG. C.S. Inc. (fashion and sewing services), TopSilog, Genesis/IExcel, Great Smile, Right at Home of Ruth Diaz Ronquillo, Kanto by Tita Flips, FV foods Lawrence by Mel Galeon, King Chicharon, Kabalen, The Elite Crusaders Canada, Republika, Vien’s Beauty and Wellness, Seacret, Financial Literacy by Paul, MB by Mike Cruz, Precise Car Doctor by Ryan Crisostomo, Think Big by Rave Cruz, Humba DeCebu, Siomai Love, Gupitang Pinoy by Jonathan, Plastic Source, Rick Dumlao, FV Foods Wilson, Billyyard Insurance Group, MB by Mike Cruz, Precise Car Doctor, HoneyLen Tan, Humba DeCebu, Siomai Love, Gupitang Pinoy, FV Foods Bathurst and Wilson, LGBT by Franz Juntilla